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Mindfulness exercises

Young woman performs mindfulness exercises in bedroom
Lettering in cursive script "Just Relax
Inner turmoil and racing thoughts in the evening? These mindfulness exercises will help you get restful sleep and live a more conscious lifestyle!

Too much stress? Take care of yourself!

Time as a scarce resource

If at work one appointment follows the next, your free time is organized and constant accessibility and flexibility is demanded from you, it is no wonder if you are haunted by inner turmoil and a thousand annoying thoughts in the evening. Freely available time has become scarce and time management has become the keyword of our society. That’s why we are taught from an early age to use our time wisely and efficiently and not to “waste” it. No wonder that under these circumstances burn-out and depression have become common diseases and that it is difficult to fall asleep because of stress, sorrow and worries.

Mindfulness exercises help

The simplest and most effective method of approaching everyday life in a more relaxed manner and, above all, of switching off tormenting thoughts before going to bed, is mindfulness exercises. Even if it sounds like too much spirituality to some people, many studies prove that mindfulness exercises calm both body and soul. We’ll explain what mindfulness means, how it can enrich your life, and which exercises will help you fall asleep right away – and lead to a better quality of life in the long run.

An illustration showing a man meditating on one side a lot of stressful things in a cloud and on the other side relaxation thanks to mindfulness in a cloud

What does mindfulness mean?

Escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life

At work, you’re surrounded by annoying colleagues, the nagging boss, constantly ringing phones, tasks and expectations. At home, it continues with leisure activities, TV shows and the smartphone that constantly receives new WhatsApp messages. Times of leisure and boredom no longer exist – instead, we flood our stimuli every day anew and rush from appointment to appointment. In the end, when we do get some peace and quiet, we are surprised at how quickly time flies. We can’t quit our jobs and we can’t escape the digital media, but we can try to live a more conscious lifestyle through mindfulness.

Mindfulness means living in the here and now

Doing the laundry, talking on the phone, checking on dinner, all at the same time? No problem! Because multitasking is one of our easiest exercises. We try to compensate for the perceived lack of time by doing a hundred activities at the same time and filling every free hour, minute and second in our schedule with tasks. In doing so, however, we forget to live in the here and now and enjoy the moment. Instead, we plan future events and eventually completely lose touch with the present. Mindfulness means arriving in the here and now and consciously perceiving one’s life instead of just letting it rush by.

Serenity in dealing with problems

Life has many surprises in store – unfortunately not always pleasant ones. Every now and then, problems arise or we go through stressful phases of life. From time to time we suffer from certain circumstances that we cannot change or influence immediately or at all. What we can influence, however, is how we deal with grief and worry. Mindfulness means not beating our brains out and accepting the unchangeable. Instead of thinking about tomorrow’s doctor’s visit and mentally going through all the possible medical conditions that match your symptoms, mindfulness means recognizing that your musings won’t change the situation and instead focusing on the present.

Learning to let go

Rarely are we satisfied with what we have accomplished and where we are in life. We always want more and when we achieve one goal we worry about how we will achieve the next. We put ourselves under high pressure, are our own biggest critics and rarely satisfied with our own performance. Learn to let go! And that doesn’t mean losing all ambition and not setting goals in life. It means not obsessively pursuing goals and accepting situations in which you fail without blaming yourself. Life doesn’t always go according to plan and those who recognize this and learn to accept it will feel happier and more relieved.

With mindfulness to relaxed sleep

Fight inner restlessness

One of the main reasons why it is difficult to fall asleep, are tormenting thoughts and inner restlessness that creep in at night and lead to nervousness. Most often, these nagging thoughts come to us in the evening, when we are no longer rushing from appointment to appointment and they have enough space to spread. However, if you learn to live in the here and now, to cope with your problems in a relaxed way and to let them go, you will find it easier to clear your head in the evening and you will suffer less often from problems falling asleep. Falling asleep mindfully means noticing thoughts, but letting them move on.

Effects of mindfulness on the body

Continuous mental stress has an effect on the physical condition by means of a high release of stress hormones. As a result, the metabolism of the sympathetic nervous system continues to be prepared for peak performance and you do not find your way to sleep. Only when the parasympathetic nervous system has taken over the metabolism is there nothing standing in the way of regenerative and restful sleep. Mindfulness exercises ensure that you concentrate on the here and now, forget annoying thoughts and your metabolism adjusts accordingly to growth and regeneration.

Better sleep through mindfulness – scientifically proven

A U.S. study investigated the effects of mindfulness exercises on the mental and physical condition of teachers, as well as on their sleep quality. To this end, 113 Canadian and U.S. teachers from elementary and secondary schools participated in the study. The teachers underwent mindfulness training, which consisted of 11 sessions and included various mindfulness exercises. In addition, teachers were encouraged to perform the exercises daily at home. Compared to a control group, teachers who participated in the mindfulness training were found to have better moods, as well as deeper and longer sleep.

When the fear of bad sleep is keeping you awake

You’ve been having trouble falling asleep or staying as leep the last few nights, and you go to bed knowing that you won’t be able to sleep peacefully this night either. Your fear comes true – you look at the alarm clock every hour and are still awake late at night. Only when you think that there is no point in falling asleep anymore, because you only have a little time left before the alarm goes off, do you fall asleep. If you tell yourself that you will sleep badly, then this will probably happen. The memory of the last sleepless nights reawakens the fear of not being able to fall asleep. Mindfulness exercises help you break out of this vicious circle and let go of thoughts in the evening.


Woman meditates on bed in front of window in bright room

Mindfulness exercises for better sleep

Mindfulness Exercise 1: Controlled Breathing

Breathing is an automated process to which we normally pay no further attention. However, controlled breathing, is a simple method that leads to relaxation and inner peace. Conscious breathing has a positive effect on your heart rate by slowing down your heartbeat and making it easier to fall asleep. You can either use the 4-7-8 breathing technique or consciously pay attention to your breathing. For the latter, it is recommended to put your hand on your stomach, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and count to five with each inhale and exhale. If unpleasant thoughts creep in, push them aside and focus on your breathing again.

Mindfulness Exercise 2: Bodyscan

The bodyscan is one of the most common exercises in mindfulness training. You lie down comfortably in bed, close your eyes and focus all your attention on your body. Then you start with the tips of your toes, continue with your feet and legs, then your belly and arms, and finally your head. You focus your concentration on the individual parts of your body and notice, for example, whether you feel a tingling sensation or with which parts of your body you touch the ground. When you have scanned your body from top to bottom, try to perceive your surroundings more precisely.

Mindfulness exercise 3: Brushing your teeth differently

The evening routine – as its name implies – is performed every evening and quickly becomes a habit. It’s a good thing, too, because the evening routine serves to help us wind down and signal our bodies that it’s bedtime. To train your mindfulness, try to be very aware of one aspect of your evening routine. For example, be more aware of making your cup of tea or brushing your teeth. Be aware of the sound of the kettle or the feel of the toothbrush in your hand and on your teeth. This mindfulness exercise helps you to perceive everyday things from a different perspective.

Mindfulness exercise 4: Go on a thought journey

When you lie in bed in the evening and close your eyes, the whole world is open to you. You can travel in your mind to any place you have always wanted to visit and let any event happen in your imagination – use this possibility! Leave reality and enter your dream world. Your mind journey can take you back to your vacation spot, for example, where you take a long walk on the beach, or take you to a fantasy world that completely matches your ideas and desires. There are no limits to your imagination, because as an old folk song from the 18th century postulates: “Thoughts are free.”

3 Important tips to effectively increase your mindfulness

Tip 1: Choose mindfulness exercises that suit you best

As a general rule, the proof of the pudding is in the eating! With as open an attitude as possible, try out different mindfulness exercises. It costs you nothing and openness in dealing with this method is an important building block for success. However, if certain exercises seem completely absurd to you, look for alternatives. It’s no good doing an exercise where you can’t take yourself seriously and don’t believe in the success of the exercise. Instead, choose those mindfulness exercises that you like best and whose purpose is clear to you.

Tip 2: Mindfulness in dealing with negative thoughts

The goal of more mindfulness in everyday life is to live a happier life in the long run and to have mainly positive thoughts and feelings – but it does not exclude negative thoughts and feelings completely. So if you’re having a bad day or are in a bad mood and negative thoughts come up, mindfulness doesn’t mean immediately suppressing those thoughts. Being mindful of your feelings is more about allowing negative thoughts to happen, but keeping them at a distance and then letting them move on. Instead of allowing your thoughts to control you, be in control of your thoughts!

Tip 3: Embrace Mindfulness as a Lifestyle

A mindfulness practice will help you relax immediately and sleep more soundly. However, mindfulness can do much more than just relax you for a moment. Try to incorporate the principle of mindfulness into your everyday life and become more aware of your surroundings. Do not let the impressions rush past you and change your perspective on everyday things. We miss many beautiful and valuable impressions in our everyday life because we do not concentrate enough on the present and rush from one place to another. But sometimes the smallest things in life are also the most beautiful and therefore deserve a little more of our attention, right?

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